NYC Mayor Eric Adams addresses violence, hate crimes in exclusive one-on-one

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- In an Eyewitness News exclusive interview, New York City Mayor Eric Adams addresses crime that has plagued the city, and at the heart of it, Asian Americans who are often the victims.

Crime and homelessness have been dominating the headlines in New York City, but beneath those headlines, at the intersection of crime and homelessness has been a pattern hard to ignore. The victims are often Asian New Yorkers.

Why is this happening and what is the solution? Mayor Eric Adams offered his thoughts on the situation.

"Painful, hurtful," Adams said.

Whether it's the unthinkable murder of Christina Yuna Lee or Michelle Go, Mayor Eric Adams says he shares the pain New Yorkers are feeling.

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In this exclusive sit-down interview with Eyewitness News reporter CeFaan Kim, the mayor says he convened an all hands on deck meeting with Asian American leaders, immediately after Go was fatally pushed in front of a moving train.

Even though there was evidence she was not targeted because she was Asian.

"What I feel is my reality. People wanna walk around and say well he targeted someone else first then he went to Ms. Go. Maybe that is the fact but that is not what I feel and I wanted to say to those leaders, I am feeling what you are feeling," Adams said.

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Already this year alone there have been a number of violent unprovoked attacks against Asian New Yorkers.

Including a 75-year-old Korean grandmother shoved to the ground in Queens and a South Korean diplomat who had his nose broken after being punched in his face in Midtown.

The NYPD from the outset said those attacks were not hate crimes, but the mayor says the possibility of hate crimes should have been investigated.

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"I have found historically the New York City Police Department, they have been reluctant in identifying hate crimes. I don't subscribe to that theory," Adams said. "If we don't properly identify them, you can't properly allocate resources. Someone punches a person with visible appearances of being a member of the AAPI community, that's no different than someone assaulting someone that's wearing Hasidic clothing as they're just walking down the street. I believe those are clear investigations that we should look at, was it a hate crime."

Meanwhile, after a 59-year-old Korean man last month took the jacket off his back to cover a homeless man sleeping in the cold in Midtown, he was assaulted and robbed.

The mayor said after the incident, "People are in a lot of pain. As I move through this city and engage with everyday New Yorkers, COVID has really brought a level of despair. You see someone attack someone that helps them, that is a signal that people are in pain."

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Reporter CeFaan Kim asked the mayor: "Can you understand why some saw that as insensitive towards the victim in that incident?"

"No and I hope not. One thing I hope that we stop doing is that we should always understands the hearts of people," Adams said. "Sometimes in our moment of being authentic we make a mistake. I would rather not be robotic and be a fake. I understood what that kindhearted person did. He saw someone and he wanted to extend help to them."

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Kim also asked the Adams about the role education has to play in combatting racism.

A bill introduced last year by NY State Senator John Liu would mandate Asian American history be taught in public schools.

The mayor says he not only supports that bill but went on to say, just like the dark past of the African American experience, we need to confront the dark past of the Asian American experience.

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